Saturday, February 2, 2013

On DVD (and better than you've heard): Todd Rohal's boy scouter, NATURE CALLS

As someone who mostly loathed Todd Rohal's labnorious and quirky-beyond-the-pale The Guatemalan Handshake, I am happy to report that his much-more-mainstream offering, which quickly came and went theatrically last year, NATURE CALLS, is surprisingly funny while alterna-ting the low-key with over-the-top. A comedy about boy scouts that, oddly enough, goes not for the expected satire but instead takes its subject seriously (and then makes fun of that), while taking aim at America's current middle class life style -- from religion to adoption to the inevitable and constant war between men and women.

Featuring fun performances from Patton Oswalt,(below, left), Johnny Knoxville (below, right), Rob Riggle and especially Maura Tierney (at bottom), and grounded by Rohal's -- the filmmaker is shown at right -- unusual screenplay (where is this movie going? you are bound to ask) and unfussy, straight-ahead direction, Nature Calls proves full of odd laughs and (for a change) smart kids who are also surprisingly believable.

In the "making of" Special Feature, the filmmaker tells us that the movie was based on an boy-scout event that happened to him as a kid, and which he incorporated into his film. It's a good one: surprising, funny and pointed. As silly as the happenings grow, the movie never loses its grasp on reality and the importance children (and the adults in charge of them) need to place on learning, doing and thereby growing.

Although Nature Calls pretty much flopped theatrically, I hope Rohal will have other chances to work closer to the mainstream mode. We can use his quirky personality and wit to enliven our too-often crass and unappealing comedies. The movie, from Magnet Releasing is out now on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD -- for sale and rental.

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